FILIPINO teen tennis ace Alex M. Eala

FILIPINO teen tennis ace Alex M. Eala got her maiden Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) 250 tournament campaign to a strong start, winning her Round of 32 assignment in impressive fashion on Tuesday night.

Rafa Nadal Academy scholar Ms. Eala, 16, defeated Paula Ormaechea of Argentina in straight sets, 7-5, 6-2, in the opening round of the 2021 Winners Open in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Ms. Eala, ranked 639th in the WTA, struggled early against 28-year-old Ormaechea (310th) in the first frame, dropping to a 0-4 hole, but was able to pick up her game as action proceeded.

She managed to level the count at 4-4, and continued to put on the pressure on her opponent before eventually claiming the win in the extended set.

In the second, propelled by the come-from-behind win she had in the opening set, Ms. Eala came out on a better footing, racing to a 5-1 lead and never allowing Ms. Ormaechea to gain any headway after.

“So happy to have won my debut match at a WTA 250 Tournament, The Winners Open,” wrote Ms. Eala in a Facebook post after her victory.

Long-time Globe ambassador Ms. Eala next plays 25-year-old Egyptian Mayar Sherif (187th) in the Round of 16.

Ms. Sherif beat Alize Cornet of France in the previous round in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.

In the Winners Open, Ms. Eala, the world’s number two juniors player, is looking to build on the gains she has had for the year, which also include winning the girls’ doubles title at the French Open and claiming twin titles in an International Tennis Federation Juniors tournament in Milan in July. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo